This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 26, 2007

Energy Efficiency Technologies Garner 11 R&D 100 Awards

Among the winners of this year's R&D 100 Awards were 11 related to energy efficiency. Two of the winners were directly related to fuel cells: inexpensive, lightweight fuel cell plates from GrafTech International, Ltd. and a device developed with the help of DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) that removes water and sulfur from diesel fuel, allowing it to provide energy to a fuel cell. Another winning purification technology recovers hydrogen from petroleum waste streams for reuse, allowing refineries to operate more efficiently. See the press release from PNNL.

While that invention will aid the petroleum industry, a new metal alloy designed for the rollers that feed pipe into annealing furnaces should yield a bonus for the steel industry. DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) helped develop the alloy, which withstands the harsh environment better, increasing productivity. The metal has already saved 124 billion Btu of natural gas during four years of testing at a steel plant. A related winning invention is the Corrosion Analyzer, a software tool that helps select the optimal alloy for specific corrosive environments. Avoiding downtime due to material failures results in big energy savings for industries. See the ORNL press release.

Other efficiency innovations include an air conditioning system that regulates both temperature and humidity; a continuously variable planetary transmission for bicycles and light electric vehicles, from Fallbrook Technologies Inc.; a lighter and stronger Alcoa aluminum alloy that can reduce structural weight in vehicles by 10%; an energy-absorbing foam that can also reduce the weight of vehicles; and even a self-heating carton for meals, which saves on fuel for delivering food to troops. And in the "we're not sure where to put this" category, Advanced Cerametrics, Inc. has won an award for a device based on the piezoelectric effect, in which a flexed piece of material will generate a voltage. The company's "Harvestor" can draw energy from vibrating equipment, using that wasted energy to power small devices such as wireless sensors. See the press releases from Fallbrook Technologies, Alcoa, and Advanced Cerametrics. Also see the awards announcements on Energy (PDF 150 KB), Environment (PDF 202 KB), Materials & Metals (PDF 243 KB), Process Technology (PDF 142 KB), and Thermal technologies (PDF 105 KB) in R&D Magazine. Download Adobe Reader.